X FACTOR, the ITV1 reality television talent show, has died. It was nine years old.
The programme had been battling a long illness, chronic fatigue since 2010, and drew its last breath at the end of the series’ auditions last weekend.
Best known for its sob stories and occasional singing, it endured a humiliating drubbing in the ratings by the Strictly Come Dancing premiere a week after falling to a five-year audience low.
Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the show. Louis Walsh said: “It reminds me of a young Fame Academy....”
OK, so this isn’t a real obituary, as much as it should be.
It’s more of a heartfelt plea, from yours truly to Simon Cowell, to put The X Factor and its viewers out of their misery.
Take it out the back and shoot the thing.
So much is now terminally ill that I can’t see a way back for the series.
There has been enough dead wood on display this year to rehome a dozen displaced Amazon rainforest tribes, and I’m not just talking about all the acoustic guitars, or Geri Halliwell.
The panel is beyond dull and, in Nicole Scherzinger instead of Mel B, they’ve hired the wrong new judge and are clearly regretting it.
Failed contestants from last year have been given pride of place which, while nothing new, has exposed the programme’s weaknesses like never before.
The producers have been foolishly scouring the nether regions of reality TV and regurgitating famehungry goofballs for our apparent entertainment, such as Britney impersonator Lorna Bliss, who’s an alumnus of Dating In The Dark, Snog Marry Avoid and Britain’s Got Talent, workshy Signed By Katie Price model Rylan Clark and, last weekend, this next poor soul: “Hello, I’m Bianca Gascoigne.”
A sob story in itself, I’m sure you’ll agree. But we’ve had them all.
Dead grandads, drug-taking siblings, jailed fathers, poorly mothers, homeless former foster kids, IVF letdowns, single mums whose tower-block lift sometimes gets stuck, on the eighth floor, Tulisa’s incorrect fish-and-chips order...
I’ve said it before, but what sticks in the throat most is that each and every single one of them looks absurd next to any tale of courage from the Paralympic Games.
Heck, they look ridiculous next to the Suffolk Southern Area Cribbage Open Repechage.
The good singers haven’t been great and the poor singers, with the exception of Billy Moore’s brutal version of Don’t Stop Believin’, at the Newcastle try-outs, not in the least bit amusing.
They’ve been instantly forgettable to the point that during the auditions highlights reel at the end of Sunday night’s episode, I could name only two contestants – Eddy String (a poor man’s Frankie Cocozza, which says a lot) and Rylan, the Sky Living channel bozo – and that was only because their annoyance levels burned into my memory.
But it doesn’t need me to write this show’s obit. If you’re looking for someone to read the last rites, Gary Barlow gave this moving assessment last weekend: “It’s really not good enough. In general, it’s just a bit mediocre.”
Here lies The X Factor, 2004-2012.
● The Thick Of It
● Dame Maggie Smith taking a 15- love lead over Shirley MacLaine in Downton Abbey’s transatlantic acting veterans invitational.
● A sheep re-enacting the Tamworth Two’s bid for freedom on BBC2’s first live One Man And His Dog by skedaddling from the flock and vaulting over a gate.
● The One Show surprising Clare Balding with a Skype call from Bert Le Clos.
● Hilary Devey’s “itchy foot”, on Dragons’ Den.
● Strictly Come Dancing’s hugely promising premiere, which feels as fresh ten series in as X Factor does stale.
● And ITV4’s World of Sport: 1980s, which featured the Thomas Hearns v Marvellous Marvin Hagler fight of the century; John Lowe’s first televised nine-dart finish, at the Fulcrum Centre in Slough, which earned him £100,000; Steve Davis’s first televised 147, which earned him a Lada; and caravan stock-car racing, from Ipswich, twin stock-car racing, from Ipswich, banger jump racing, from Ipswich, and double-decker bus racing.
● Strictly Come Dancing disappearing again for three weeks the moment it returns.
● Doctor Who borrowing heavily from the plots of Jurassic Park and The Terminator in successive weeks.
● Channel 5 spending an hour indulging brown-nose speculation on Wills and Kate: Baby Fever.
● Hip-hop-happening Aled Jones telling Professor Green on Wednesday’s Daybreak: “Well done on the new single. It’s really catchy,” like he’s got Public Enemy’s entire back catalogue.
● TV’s least original panel show, Comedy World Cup on Channel 4, featuring agent Addison Cresswell clients Jo Brand, Shappi Khorsandi, Paul Chowdhry and Sean Lock, presumably booked by the series’ executive producer, Addison Cresswell (see also the next two weeks for Alan Carr, Kevin Bridges, Phill Jupitus and Josh Widdicombe).
● And Channel 5’s new series Being Liverpool, which goes behind the scenes at Anfield. Because I thought they’d have chosen to make a documentary about a big club.